David John Diersen, GOPUSA Illinois Editor
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October 31, 2006 News Clips - Text 2
Posted by Diersen on 15-Mar-2007


Sweet: Laura Bush, John Kerry: Make pitchs to Illinois voters. UPDATE Howard Dean, too.

First Lady Laura Bush, on a campaign swing this week, touches down in Schaumburg this Thursday. (note to White House—that is burg, not berg, as written on her sked).

UPDATE On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) host a get-out-the-vote rally at DePaul U's Lincoln Park campus, 2 p.m. at the student center, 2250 N. Sheffield.

The Laura Bush event seems intended to benefit both GOP candidates in the big sixth and eighth district House races, Peter Roskam, running against Democrat Tammy Duckworth and David McSweeney, challenging Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.)
Bush vaults from a rally in Lansing, Michigan to Schaumburg for a rally sponsored by ``Illinois Victory 2006.’’ That is the entity formed by the state and national Republican parties dedicated to getting out the vote.
Meanwhile Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent out a fundraising appeal to help Duckworth and four other candidates in races where they need to come from behind.
Last week, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) sent out a fundraising appeal aimed at helping Duckworth, Bean, and Illinois Dems Dan Seals and Phil Hare.

Sweet: Hastert not predicting he will win election as speaker if GOP holds the House.

Give House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) the chance to speak his mind about House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and he'll take it, just as he did Sunday night during an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity. He reaffirmed his prediction the GOP will retain the House. However, he would not predict that he will be elected speaker again. Hastert has been definitive about his desire to stay on as Speaker.

``One election at a time,'' Hastert told Hannity.

Hannity chose not to ask Hastert about his testimony last week before the House ethics committee. Or Hastert's latest thoughts on the impact of the Foley page scandal.

``Working with Nancy, it's been all politics all of the time,'' said Hastert, interviewed from Aurora. Pelosi is likely to be speaker if the Dems win control of the House next week.

transcript provide by Hastert's office........

Sean Hannity: Dennis Hastert Speaker of the House joins us from aurora, Illinois. Nancy Pelosi will tell anybody who will listen she will be the next speaker of the house. The quote is she can have any suite she wants. I assume tonight you are going to take issue with that?

Speaker Hastert: I think she is trying to measure the curtains already. We have a good story to tell. What the American voters really focus in on what this election in Congress is all about it's about a lifestyle, it's about being able to keep a little more of your own money in your pocket rather than having -- losing the tax cuts and that republicans brought forward in the last five years. The last five years we have created an economy where 6.3 Million people have more jobs. New jobs in this country. We have said this thing more people own their own homes than ever before in the history of the country. More minorities own their homes than ever before in the history of the country. The stock markets hit a record high. We have had 19 consecutive months of good economic growth in this country. It's because we cut taxes when it was tough to do that back in 2001 and 2002 to get the economy going, to get people back to work to get people to invest in America. We have been able to do that.

SH: I don't want to interrupt you. The message on the economy you are talking about job creation issue, interest rates, inflation, is that message getting out? If you listen to just about anybody who is writing they all say republicans are going to loose seats it's a matter of how many. Do you expect republicans will loose seats?

Hastert: I think we could loose seats. We could pick a seat up. This is a national election. This election is district by district. It's about Members of Congress getting out talking to constituents about what they have been able to accomplish how we made a better life for America in this country and how we kept this country safe from terrorists in the last five years. Nobody talks about that.

SH: Have you examined the issue in terms of the house races have you examined it district by district so you know you are confident what the as a results will be on election day?

Hastert: You are never confident and American people make that final decision. If you look district by district democrats would have to take 15 seats away from republican districts.

SH: Let's talk about the woman who would like to have your job a week from this Wednesday that's Nancy Pelosi. She referred to the President of the United States as mentally unstable, she says about Republicans in Congress they are immoral, corrupt they are running a criminal investigation. She is talking about you. She can say much worse if she wants to. On the other hand she says she would like to restore civility. Does Nancy Pelosi have the teacher temperament to be the speaker of the House of Representatives?

Hastert: Working with Nancy it's been all politics all of the time. There are a lot of things we can work together with in congress that republicans ultimately got done by themselves the hard way. She turned off and said no we are not going to help you, not going to work with you. Two weeks ago she made a decision the only way to get their message out was to trash the President and trash the Republicans. They have done nothing in Congress they have no ideas we are the ones that have gotten everything done.

SH: Democrats for the most part oppose the patriot act they are against the NSA surveillance program they want to confer constitutional rights to enemy combatants. The question is they have cut intelligence funding. Are democrats in your estimation are they weak on home lands security as we close out the segment?

Hastert: They have. They actually have a record of cutting intelligence. As a matter of fact one of the problems we had at the beginning of getting into the war, we didn't have good intelligence. We didn't have good intelligence because they in the Clinton administration cut human intelligence. We didn't have people on the ground to make good decisions for us.

SH: Your prediction is one week from this Wednesday you will still be the Speaker of the House of Representatives?

Hastert: Republicans will win and I will run for Speaker.

SH: Are you confident you are going to win that?

Hastert: One election at a time.

SH: Speaker Hastert appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you very much.

Hastert: My pleasure.

DIERSEN HEADLINE: VERY SAD: Anti-Christian Democrats, and RINOs, and those who want to destroy America and  will be overjoyed - Cardinal Francis George blasts America, calls it "deaf and blind",CST-NWS-CARD31.article

A candid cardinal says: 'World distrusts us' - Cathleen Falsini
Cardinal Francis George believes he knows why much of the world distrusts Americans.
It's not because of our freedom or wealth, Chicago's Roman Catholic archbishop says. It's because often we neither comprehend nor wish to comprehend the perspectives and plights of others.

In his homily Sunday during a service at Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school of theology in Hyde Park, George, 69, recalled his experiences visiting some of the poorest corners of the globe when he was the vicar general of his religious order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

"I found as I went around that no matter where I went, even in Marxist lands, people knew I was a Catholic priest," George said. "This was in the '60s and '70s, long before 9/11, long before the Iraqi war. And people everywhere I went, although I found myself part of a global community as a Catholic priest, I found myself suspect as an American citizen.

"The world distrusts us not because we are rich and free. Many of us are not rich and some of us aren't especially free. They distrust us because we are deaf and blind, because too often we don't understand and make no effort to understand," he said.

"We have this cultural proclivity that says, 'We know what is best and if we truly want to do something, whether in church or in society, no one has the right to tell us no.' That cultural proclivity, which defines us in many ways, has to be surrendered, or we will never be part of God's kingdom."

These were rare forceful public statements for George, who normally shies away from speaking about political issues. And even as he said them, the cardinal was concerned his remarks might be taken out of context.

"There aren't many places where I can say that, there aren't many places where I would want that to be said for me, and I wouldn't want to be quoted outside of this context," the cardinal said during his homily.

Fixing the blind spot
His particular context Sunday was the largest Catholic theological school in the United States, where one-third of the student body is international students from 40 countries, including nations that have suffered recent trauma, such as Somalia and Iraq, said the Rev. Donald Senior, the theological union's president.

"You hardly realize it when you see them walking the corridors. You think they're like everybody else and then you hear their stories and they're breathtaking," Senior said about some of CTU's international students.

"For me and for a lot of people I've talked to since, is that the emotional part of it was that he was on key so much with what we're trying to do," preparing students for lives of service, which often lead them to war-torn, impoverished and distressed parts of the world, Senior said.

"I've actually heard him say this before," said Senior, who deemed Sunday's homily one of George's best. "I really think that deep down in his soul he is a missionary . . . and [he] has an innate respect, consideration and empathy for these other cultures who are so often overlooked or misunderstood by us."

Fixing America's blind spot is an enormous undertaking, George said.

"Conversion of an entire culture is far more difficult than personal conversion," the cardinal said. "But we know it is necessary. . . .

"There is always a need for something more, not only more, but radically different. And it won't come unless we ask [God] for it as a gift. We cannot achieve it ourselves."

DIERSEN HEADLINE: Chicago Sun-Times endorses Republicans Munson, Parke, Coladipietro, Bellock, Schmitz, Lindner, Sullivan, and Mathias for the Illinois House,CST-EDT-edits31.article

More endorsements for the Illinois House

The Sun-Times today continues its endorsements for the Illinois House: 43rd District: Ruth Munson, the incumbent, is a compassionate legislator who was successful in passing legislation to provide more funds for fast-growth school districts. She has worked on anti-gang laws and tried to help families living in affordable manufactured housing communities who have had to abandon their homes because they can no longer afford to lease the land. She is a moderate Republican who endorses stem cell research, although she thinks a financially strapped state such as Illinois should not be targeting new funds for it. She gets the nod over Democrat Laurel Bault.


44th: Fred Crespo, a former Hoffman Estates village trustee, is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Terry Parke but he will have a tough job wrangling this northwest suburban district from a lawmaker who has been in the House for more than two decades. This district, however, is trending more Hispanic, and Parke, who is very conservative, may find he is not in sync with his constituents. Still, we continue to endorse him.

45th:Newcomer Republican and lawyer Franco Coladipietro of Bloomingdale is running for the seat once held by Republican Rep. Carole Pankau, who moved to the Senate and is running for comptroller. His opponent is Rob Bisceglie, a consultant for nonprofit organizations. Coladipietro has a more impressive resume and has thought hard about the sticky issue of school funding. We endorse him.

46th:Democrat Joe Vosicky and Republican Dennis Reboletti are running for the seat held by former GOP House Leader Lee Daniels. Reboletti, an assistant state's attorney, has been active in local politics in the city of Elmhurst and Addison Township. We endorsed Vosicky in the 2004 race because of his concerns over the rising cost of health care and helping ex-offenders. We support him again.

47th:Incumbent Republican Patricia "Patti" Bellock of Hinsdale pushed hard to create a separate juvenile justice agency and should be applauded for that. She is being opposed by Democrat Carol DiCola of Downers Grove, who works for Oakton Community College. Bellock has been a good legislator, supporting specialized programs for autistic children. She is our choice.

49th: Timothy Schmitz of Batavia is the Republican incumbent for this district that encompasses the northern part of Kane County. A firefighter and a land developer, Schmitz has ably represented this area since 1999. Christine Adelman, a Democrat from Geneva, is running against him. Schmitz gets our nod.

50th: This is the district long represented by Republican Patricia Reid Lindner, the assistant minority leader. She is a moderate, pro-choice Republican who is working on legislation to examine unusual or suspicious deaths of the elderly. We endorse her over Democrat Joe Serra, who works in the wireless industry. The district covers the southern half of Kane County and most of Kendall County.

51st:Democrat Amanda Howland, a lawyer from Lake Zurich, is taking on Republican incumbent Ed Sullivan Jr. for his northwest suburban district. Howland is an activist in her community but is weak on specific issues. Sullivan is smart and effective. We endorse him.

53rd:Democrat Michael MacDonald has no chance against the well-funded campaign run by incumbent Republican Sidney Mathias -- not just because of Mathias' campaign chest but also because MacDonald has few ideas about fixing education and rapid transit. Mathias is one of the stalwarts in the House, a sensible, committed lawmaker. He is discouraged by the lack of stability in school funding, but opposes a tax swap, worrying that local municipalities will lose some control over property taxes. We disagree with him about this, but we do appreciate his understanding of the issue and also the recognition of the complexities of the funding for rapid transit. We support him.

Hastert la vista? - Andrew Taylor,CST-NWS-hastert31.article

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is expected by many Republicans to step aside as the GOP's leader if Democrats win big in next week's election. He may be on his way out even if the GOP emerges with a narrow majority.


The No. 2 House Republican, Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, is looking very much like a candidate to fill Hastert's shoes even though some Republicans appear to be agitating for fresh faces all around, win or lose.

Grumpy GOP
There's lots of grumbling among Republican insiders over real and imagined leadership lapses. Not the least of those is the way Hastert's office handled -- mishandled, some critics say -- the Mark Foley page scandal.

Interviews with current and former congressional aides, GOP lobbyists and strategists reveal surprisingly widespread discontent with Hastert, suggesting a demoralizing election could cement calls within GOP ranks for new leadership.

Hastert's not having it
''He's in jeopardy whether we win or lose,'' said GOP lobbyist Jim Dyer, a former staff chief for the House Appropriations Committee. ''If we lose, I think the party will want somebody younger and more articulate to carry its message as minority leader and I'm guessing that'll be John Boehner.''

Hastert vows to soldier on.

''Republicans will win and I will run for speaker,'' he said. Asked if he is confident he'll prevail, Hastert responded: ''One election at a time.''

But a recent anonymous poll of GOP insiders contained discouraging results for both Boehner and Hastert. The poll of 70 GOP activists, strategists and lobbyists found only 14 percent supporting Hastert returning as speaker anust 26 percent preferring Boehner.

McCain, Roskam overlook differences - Paige Winfield,CST-NWS-mccain31.article

Common ground was their platform as U.S. Sen. John McCain campaigned for Republican congressional candidate Peter Roskam on Monday.
The united front was presented even though McCain's most prominent recent legislation -- on immigration reform -- is supported not by Roskam, but by his opponent.

"This man has a record he will bring to Washington that will bring him instant credibility," McCain told a crowd of veterans at an Addison banquet hall. "I feel comfortable in passing the torch to this younger generation of leadership."

Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic candidate for the 6th District, supports the bill co-sponsored by McCain (R-Ariz.).

No mention of immigration
Passed by the U.S. Senate in May, the bill allows illegal immigrants to apply for six-year temporary visas, after which they would be eligible to apply for a green card.

Roskam, a state senator from Wheaton, opposes the bill for the amnesty he says it grants to illegal aliens -- and its $126 billion price tag -- while Duckworth insists, along with McCain, that the bill does not grant amnesty.

McCain didn't bring up the topic Monday.

Instead he focused on areas of agreement between himself and Roskam: federal spending, foreign affairs and the war in Iraq.

Duckworth spokesman Billy Winberg said McCain's appearance shows that Roskam represents the inconsistent politics that people are "sick and tired of" by criticizing Duckworth's stance on immigration but not applying that criticism to McCain.

Blagojevich plan links minimum pay in state to inflation - Steve Warmbir,CST-NWS-wage29.article

Illinois' minimum wage earners would get increases pegged to inflation every year, under proposed legislation announced Saturday by Gov. Blagojevich and Mayor Daley.





Blagojevich, joined by Daley, said at a news conference that he would have legislation introduced during the November legislative veto session in Springfield to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $7.50 an hour, and have annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

The governor said he was willing to hold state lawmakers through the holidays, if necessary, to pass the proposal.

Daley predicted an easier time passing the wage increase in the Legislature this time around.

"I think it's going to be easier with his re-election," Daley said, referring to Blagojevich.

'It's just plain wrong'
The standard minimum wage in the United States is $5.15 an hour.

The last time the minimum wage was increased in Illinois was in 2003, from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour. The increases help about 500,000 Illinois residents, according to the governor's office. Four other states have tied minimum wage increases to inflation.

"The minimum wage was raised in 2003, but costs have continued to rise," Blagojevich said.

His lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn added: "It's wrong, it's just plain wrong for people who work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to live in poverty."

Topinka's proposal
The governor blasted his Republican opponent, Judy Baar Topinka, for opposing the increase.

Topinka campaign spokesman John McGovern said Topinka does support a wage increase, but at the national level instead.

That way there's a level-playing field, and Illinois businesses won't lose jobs across state lines to companies that can pay less, he said.


McCain rally for Roskam: Splitting the difference - Page Winfield,6_1_NA31_ROSKAM_S1.article

ADDISON -- Common ground was their platform as U.S. Sen. John McCain campaigned for fellow Republican Peter Roskam on Monday - even though McCain's most prominent recent legislation is supported not by Roskam, but by his opponent.
Tammy Duckworth, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District, supports the immigration reform bill co-sponsored by McCain, R-Arizona, while Roskam opposes it. But that political triangle didn't keep McCain from stumping for Roskam, a state senator from Wheaton, in the tightly contested congressional race.

Passed by the U.S. Senate in May, the bill allows illegal immigrants to apply for six-year temporary visas, after which they would be eligible to apply for a green card. Roskam opposes the bill for the amnesty he says it grants to illegal aliens and its $126 billion price tag, while Duckworth insists - along with McCain - that the bill does not grant amnesty.

Several similarities

Although immigration is one of the hottest controversies in the race between Roskam and Duckworth, the topic remained dormant throughout McCain's remarks to a crowd of veterans at Medinah Banquets in Addison. McCain instead focused on areas of agreement between himself and Roskam, namely federal spending, foreign affairs and the war in Iraq.

"This man has a record he will bring to Washington that will bring him instant credibility," McCain said. "I feel comfortable in passing the torch to this younger generation of leadership."

Duckworth's spokesman, Billy Winberg, said McCain's appearance shows that Roskam represents the inconsistent politics that people are "sick and tired of." He said Roskam shows that inconsistency by criticizing Duckworth's stance on immigration but not applying that criticism to McCain.

'Scare tactics'

Winberg suggested McCain's attitude toward Roskam may have been different if he had seen the months of "relentless scare tactics" Roskam has waged in television ads against Duckworth.

"I think if McCain had been here to see how negative and misleading and distorted the attacks have been, perhaps he would have taken a different point of view," Winberg said.

But on Monday, Roskam named several major issues on which he and McCain agree while acknowledging that they do have disagreements.

"I am very proud to have Senator McCain's support in this race and was proud to welcome him to the district," Roskam said. "While there are issues that Senator McCain and I may disagree on, we strongly agree on the need to change the way Washington works - in the way it spends taxpayer money, the need for ethics reform and the need to ask tough questions about the war in Iraq."

In his remarks, McCain decried the spending in Congress, in particular the 2005 Transportation Equity Act, which included a $223 million contribution to what he and other legislators have termed the "bridge to nowhere" - a bridge that would connect Alaska to developable land on Gravina Island.

"We will fight against this pork barrel spending," McCain said. "We understand it's your money, not ours."

On Iraq, McCain rejected the idea of setting a date for withdrawing U.S. troops, saying chaos would ensue.

McCain knows that the 6th District is one of nation's crucial races that could change the balance of power in Congress.

"The eyes of America will be on this race election night," McCain said.

An Oct. 20 poll in a Chicago newspaper found the opponents to be neck and neck, with Roskam's 43 percent support of likely voters barely exceeding Duckworth's 39 percent.

Veterans favor Roskam

Veteran Joe Lemons says he will vote for Roskam - even though he has been Duckworth's friend for 15 years and served with her in Iraq. Lemons said Duckworth is not being true to her beliefs in the politically charged environment.

"Now she has taken on positions that I didn't know for years she believed," he said. "I think she's being fed what she's saying."

Lemon and four other service members spoke briefly ahead of Roskam and McCain's remarks.

Jeanne Ives, a West Point graduate, said Roskam's experience in the Illinois Legislature is invaluable.

"In the Army you would never send a new recruit into a live fire exercise," Ives said.


McCain in Illinois to help Republican congressional candidates - Deanna Bellandi

CHICAGO - Popular GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona likes David McSweeney but that's not the only reason he came out to campaign for him on Monday.

"As much as I admire and appreciate David McSweeney - and I do - this is also a key race as far as control of the House of Representatives is concerned," McCain said after a downtown fundraiser for about 60 people helped raise $25,000 for McSweeney.

McSweeney's contest against incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean isn't the only tight race in Illinois that could help decide whether Republicans retain control of the U.S. House.

The other is the battle to replace retiring GOP Rep. Henry Hyde. McCain also went to the Chicago suburbs on Monday to campaign for the Republican candidate there, Peter Roskam. McCain appeared at a veterans endorsement event for Roskam, who's locked in a close race with Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

Appearing with McSweeney, McCain acknowledged it's not easy for Republicans this campaign season.

"Is this a tough year for Republicans, not just in Illinois but nationwide? Absolutely," McCain said.

He said an "anti-Republican" feeling is one of the reasons some congressional races are so close, including those in Illinois.

A recent poll done for the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald and Chicago's WLS-TV showed Roskam with an apparent lead over Duckworth 46 percent to 42 percent, but that's within the poll's 4 percentage point margin of error.

The same poll showed Bean with a slight 42 percent to 39 percent lead over McSweeney, again within the margin of error. A third candidate in the race, Bill Scheurer, got 8 percent support.

In the Roskam-Duckworth race, 12 percent of voters were undecided and 11 percent were undecided in the Bean-McSweeney-Scheurer battle. The poll of 500 registered voters was done Oct. 18-24.

Topinka speaks out against Kjellander - Deanna Bellandi
CHICAGO - Republican Judy Baar Topinka spoke out Monday against a top GOP official linked to a plot to squeeze kickbacks out of companies doing business with the state, and a new poll showed Topinka with a big gap to close against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich leads Topinka by 16 percentage points, according to the poll conducted Oct. 16-22.

Meanwhile Blagojevich, appearing in southern Illinois, criticized coverage of his wife's business dealings as "sexist."

Topinka stopped short of calling for Bob Kjellander, treasurer of the national Republican Party, to resign. But she said he should step down if he was involved in any misconduct.

"If Bob Kjellander has done ... something wrong here he needs to resign from his party post," Topinka said before kicking off a statewide coffee-shop tour to talk to voters about the state's financial situation.

Kjellander has not been charged with any crime, but a guilty plea by businessman Stuart Levine outlined efforts to use Levine's position on two state boards to demand kickbacks. One of the participants is listed in the plea agreement as "Individual K."

Jon Bauman, executive director of the state Teachers Retirement System, said he believes Kjellander is Individual K "based on a comparison of the federal documents and TRS records."

A person familiar with the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, confirmed that Kjellander is Individual K.

Kjellander did not return a phone call from the AP Monday left at his Springfield office.

According to court documents, Levine learned in early 2002 that an investment firm wanted work from TRS. It says that "Individual K," who Levine understood was going to get a finder's fee from the firm if it got state work, asked Levine to help get the firm business. Levine agreed to help and the firm got an investment of about $150 million from TRS in August 2002.

In his plea deal, Levine has admitted to, among other things, plotting with a top Blagojevich fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, to try to get kickbacks from investment companies that wanted business from TRS. Rezko has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. Blagojevich has not been charged with any crimes.

Both Topinka and Blagojevich have tried to use the Levine plea against each other in their campaigns. Topinka claims the latest revelations are just another sign of corruption in the Blagojevich administration, while he claims the Republicans are to blame because GOP Gov. Jim Edgar first appointed Levine to a state board.

Topinka tried to distance herself from Kjellander, even though he has contributed thousands of dollars to her campaigns and they both have held top GOP leadership posts. Topinka said "he's only associated with me because he's a Republican."

The new poll done for the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald and Chicago's WLS-TV found Blagojevich favored by 48 percent of likely voters, Topinka by 32 percent and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney 12 percent. Eight percent were undecided.

The poll of 603 voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

A poll for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV that was published Sunday showed Blagojevich with nine-point lead.

And at an appearance in Godfrey, Blagojevich complained about news coverage of his wife's business dealings with people who have a financial stake in the administration's actions.

Patricia Blagojevich, a real estate broker, earned $113,700 in commissions - her only commissions this year - through deals involving Anita Mahajan, whose company has a no-bid contract with the state, and her husband Amrish, whose bank has requests pending before state regulators, the Chicago Tribune reported last week.

The governor complained Monday that the story had a "sexist component" implying that wives and mothers shouldn't have their own careers.

"And to suggest she doesn't have the right to have her own business and pursue her own business is Neanderthal and sexist," Blagojevich told the Tribune on Monday.

His office has dismissed questions about the propriety of the governor's spouse making money from a couple whose businesses depend on decisions made by the Blagojevich administration.


Blago, Topinka address controvertial issues - Deanna Bellandi

CHICAGO - Republican Judy Baar Topinka spoke out Monday against a top GOP official linked to a plot to squeeze kickbacks out of companies doing business with the state, and a new poll showed Topinka with a big gap to close against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich leads Topinka by 16 percentage points, according to the poll conducted Oct. 16-22.

Meanwhile Blagojevich, appearing in southern Illinois, criticized coverage of his wife's business dealings as "sexist."

Topinka stopped short of calling for Bob Kjellander, treasurer of the national Republican Party, to resign. But she said he should step down if he was involved in any misconduct.

"If Bob Kjellander has done ... something wrong here he needs to resign from his party post," Topinka said before kicking off a statewide coffee-shop tour to talk to voters about the state's financial situation.

Kjellander has not been charged with any crime, but a guilty plea by businessman Stuart Levine outlined efforts to use Levine's position on two state boards to demand kickbacks. One of the participants is listed in the plea agreement as "Individual K."

Jon Bauman, executive director of the state Teachers Retirement System, said he believes Kjellander is Individual K "based on a comparison of the federal documents and TRS records."

A person familiar with the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, confirmed that Kjellander is Individual K.

Kjellander did not return a phone call from the AP Monday left at his Springfield office.

According to court documents, Levine learned in early 2002 that an investment firm wanted work from TRS. It says that "Individual K," who Levine understood was going to get a finder's fee from the firm if it got state work, asked Levine to help get the firm business. Levine agreed to help and the firm got an investment of about $150 million from TRS in August 2002.

Both Topinka and Blagojevich have tried to use the Levine plea against each other in their campaigns. Topinka claims the latest revelations are just another sign of corruption in the Blagojevich administration, while he claims the Republicans are to blame because GOP Gov. Jim Edgar first appointed Levine to a state board.

Topinka tried to distance herself from Kjellander, even though he has contributed thousands of dollars to her campaigns and they both have held top GOP leadership posts. Topinka said "he's only associated with me because he's a Republican."

The new poll done for the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald and Chicago's WLS-TV found Blagojevich favored by 48 percent of likely voters, Topinka by 32 percent and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney 12 percent. Eight percent were undecided.

The poll of 603 voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

And at an appearance in Godfrey, Blagojevich complained about news coverage of his wife's business dealings with people who have a financial stake in the administration's actions.

Patricia Blagojevich, a real estate broker, earned $113,700 in commissions - her only commissions this year - through deals involving Anita Mahajan, whose company has a no-bid contract with the state, and her husband Amrish, whose bank has requests pending before state regulators, the Chicago Tribune reported last week.

The governor complained Monday that the story had a "sexist component" implying that wives and mothers shouldn't have their own careers.

"And to suggest she doesn't have the right to have her own business and pursue her own business is Neanderthal and sexist," Blagojevich told the Tribune on Monday.

His office has dismissed questions about the propriety of the governor's spouse making money from a couple whose businesses depend on decisions made by the Blagojevich administration.


Controversy Gives Hastert Time at Home - Mark Leibovich

BATAVIA, Ill., Oct. 28 — Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is spending a lot of time in his district these days.

He spent part of a cold, blustery Friday in Geneseo at an outdoor ceremony with local business leaders. Nose dripping as he endured 20 minutes of speeches, he spoke only briefly, paying homage to the high school football team. He spent Saturday morning thanking volunteers in his campaign headquarters in Batavia and Sunday afternoon riding his antique fire engine in the Pumpkin Day Parade in Sycamore.

Mr. Hastert, 64, had planned to be on the road in October, campaigning for Republican House members. But most of those events were canceled after Representative Mark Foley’s sexually explicit e-mail messages to House pages became public and Mr. Hastert was criticized as not doing more to stop them.

“Sure, it bothers you,” Mr. Hastert said in an interview in his headquarters. “But I understand, if I’ve got 15 television trucks sitting outside my house, and I’ve got a helicopter looking in the window, you probably don’t want to bring that into somebody else’s district.”

So he has stayed here, in his district west of Chicago, where he used to teach high school and coach wrestling. Mr. Hastert has been elected here 10 times; his opponent, John Laesch, is a carpenter and political newcomer. People call Mr. Hastert Denny and Coach and talk about the bum rap he is getting.

“The way the media’s talking, you’d think he was the one that sent the e-mails,” says Dennis Wiggins, a friend visiting Mr. Hastert’s campaign offices.

Friends say Mr. Hastert is in decent spirits, if going slightly stir crazy at times. “He absolutely misses the campaigning,” said Tom Cross, the Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives and a former student of Mr. Hastert.

The speaker takes pride in his efforts on behalf of his Republican members. “I’ve been out in 50 or so districts since the first of August,” he said Saturday. But few of the trips have been recent and most took place in August.

He still makes a few carefully selected visits. He traveled Thursday to northeastern Tennessee, where he campaigned for the Republican candidate in a district no Democrat has carried in more than a century.

On Monday, he was in Texas and Oklahoma City, where he attended a fund-raiser for a Congressional candidate whose Democratic opponent promptly accused her of aligning “herself with the disgraced leadership of the Republican Party.”

Mr. Hastert is unaccustomed to the role of incendiary figure. He has operated largely out of camera range, leaving much of the focus on deputies. He has always fashioned himself a slightly beleaguered leader, someone who does not need the job and never wanted it.

His unlikely rise came after the would-be successor to Speaker Newt Gingrich, Representative Bob Livingston of Louisiana, bowed out because of marital infidelity. Mr. Hastert was called “the accidental speaker” but has since become the longest-serving Republican in that role.

“The speaker has always brought a real balanced and grounded approach to an otherwise surreal process,” says Representative Adam H. Putnam, Republican of Florida and a protégé of Mr. Hastert. “Now he’s in the middle of all the surrealness.”

Last Tuesday, when Mr. Hastert returned to Washington to testify about the Foley affair before the House ethics committee, reporters and photographers staked out his office. At one point, Mr. Hastert left to use the bathroom down the hall. He greeted reporter Mike Viqueira of NBC, with whom he shares an interest in Japanese culture.

“Konichi wa,” Mr. Hastert whispered, saying hello to Mr. Viqueira.

On the way out, Mr. Viqueira asked the speaker in Japanese if he would be “going downstairs” that afternoon, to which Mr. Hastert replied, “Hai” (“Yes”).

After lunch, Mr. Hastert rushed downstairs, trailed by members of the news media and an entourage of staff and security. He entered the ethics committee room, in the basement of the Capitol and right next to a House page locker room.

Mr. Hastert stayed for almost three hours, came out, made a quick statement, ignored shouted questions (“Mr. Speaker, will you resign?”) and headed out of town.

“When you take a job like this, you basically offer yourself up,” Mr. Hastert said Saturday back in Illinois. “You know, you’re going to take some criticism. You’re going to take some spears.”

The question that lingers is how long Mr. Hastert wants to keep taking spears and offering himself up. Even before he became speaker in 1998, he had spoken to headhunters about jobs in the private sector. He thought seriously about leaving after the 2004 election, but President Bush asked him to stay.

Mr. Hastert says he will run again for speaker if Republicans stay in the majority. Asked whether he will serve out his full term, Mr. Hastert says, “That is my intent,” but shrugs while he says it.

Friends and associates of Mr. Hastert say he seems driven less by any great ambition to remain as speaker and more by a desire to let his reputation recover.

“He needs to win the re-election, keep the majority and continue as speaker because this would be a terrible way for his career to end,” said John Feehery, a former Hastert aide.

Mr. Hastert is also fueled by what appears to be a genuine dislike of Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, who would be speaker if Democrats gained 15 seats next week. To invoke Ms. Pelosi as speaker is a Republican talking point, but when Mr. Hastert does it, it smacks of disdain.

Asked if he has spoken to her recently, Mr. Hastert grimaces and says Ms. Pelosi called him last week “to read me the riot act about something.” He adds: “She’s scripted, and you don’t really get a word in edgewise. You don’t get a lot of dialogue.”

Two weeks after the Congressional page scandal erupted, Mr. Hastert bought some farmland along Wisconsin’s western edge. The parcel is the second he had bought there in less than a year. Mr. Hastert and his wife, Jean, have told friends they intend to spend part of their retirement on the property, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.


Jesse White looking for four more years in office - Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD - After eight relatively quiet years at the helm of Illinois' largest bureaucracy, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is asking voters to give him another four years in office.

His challenger, state Sen. Dan Rutherford, says it's time for White to go, citing numerous instances of nepotism within the expansive office, as well as the recent federal conviction of a top aide to White in connection with a ghost payrolling scheme.

For voters, the race pits a longtime Democratic officeholder from Chicago against a Republican state senator from a small community in Livingston County.

The office they seek regulates driver's licenses, lobbying activities and other business services conducted by the state.

As the two candidates entered the final six weeks of the campaign season, polls showed White holding a commanding 65 percent to 25 percent lead.

Campaign fundraising reports show White with a similar advantage.

He had $2 million entering the final month, compared to $591,000 for Rutherford.

White, a former state lawmaker, says he deserves another four years in office because he's kept the office running smoothly in the wake of scandals that occurred under the watch of George Ryan.

Accomplishments he cites include:

 The distribution of 8.5 million new license plates;

 A crackdown on untrained truck drivers;

 A push to limit abuse of handicapped parking placards;

 Expansion of on-line applications for various services;

 Tougher requirements for teen drivers;

 And, a policy by which senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women who visit a driver's license facility are served first.

Illinois State University political scientist Robert Bradley said the office is tailor-made for politicians to advance a feel-good agenda. That helps them keep a hold on power.

Plus, Bradley said, the incumbent has the ability to get his or her name out in front of voters through signs on buildings in nearly every community, as well as programs that affect a wide range of citizens.

"It's hard as a challenger to overcome that," Bradley said.

Rutherford, a 14-year veteran of the House and Senate, had entered the campaign season mulling a run for governor. He eventually chose to do battle with White, but has had trouble gaining traction.

Rutherford charges that White has made the expansive office a haven for family members. Rutherford also complains that waiting times at driver's license facilities remain a problem. And, he says people should be able to apply for licenses and other state services using the Internet.

Rutherford is a vice president at ServiceMaster Corp., which has service-oriented subsidiaries like Terminix and Molly Maids. He formerly traveled overseas for the company, trying to expand the Illinois-based company into global markets.

He said he would bring his expertise in the business world to streamline services provided by the Secretary of State's office. Among his proposals is to allow people to sign up for appointments at driver's license stations, thus cutting down on waiting times.

Chief among Rutherford's complaints has been White's employment of his daughter, Glenna, who was hired for the office under Ryan's administration at a salary of $39,000, but now is making $112,000 a year.

White has contended that his daughter and several other relatives on the Secretary of State payroll are qualified for their jobs and followed the proper procedures for getting hired.

Rutherford also has criticized White for allowing the wives of two of his top aides to get contracts with the office. Rutherford has asked for an investigation into the matter.

A White spokesman says nothing wrong has taken place.

Bradley said Rutherford may be simply trying to gain statewide name recognition in this election in hopes of running again in 2010.

"Why would he take on presumably the most well-like Democrat in the state?" Bradley asked.

Rutherford has repeatedly denied he's trying to position himself for the future and said he's running to win.

Green Party candidate Karen Peterson moved to New York after winning a spot on the ballot and would be barred from taking office if she were to win.


Kjellander named in Levine plea  RNC treasurer worked to secure funds for investment firm - Bernard Schoenburg
Springfield consultant Bob Kjellander, the treasurer of the Republican National Committee, has been identified as "Individual K" in the plea agreement of Stuart Levine.

Levine on Friday pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to try to get millions of dollars in kickbacks and other payments from companies doing business with two state boards.

The 58-page plea agreement includes a section on "Investment Firm 8," which attempted to obtain investment funds from the Teachers' Retirement System, one of the boards Levine served.

The talks, according to the document, involved Levine and an "Individual A" and an "Individual K."

Jon Bauman, executive director of the TRS, earlier said that Bill Cellini, treasurer of the Sangamon County GOP, is Individual A.

"Based on a comparison of the federal documents and TRS board minutes and other records, Individual K is Mr. Kjellander," Bauman said Sunday evening.

He also said that "Firm 8" is the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.

In about early 2002, the plea agreement indicates, Levine learned that the Carlyle Group wanted to obtain an investment from TRS.

"Individual K, who Defendant (Levine) understood was going to receive a finder's fee from Investment Firm 8 (Carlyle Group) if it received a TRS investment, asked Defendant (Levine) to help Investment Firm 8 obtain an investment from TRS."

Levine agreed to help and "subsequently attempted to assist" the Carlyle Group to receive funds from TRS, the plea says.

Individual A (Cellini) then indicated to Levine that because he had helped Individual K (Kjellander), Levine "could stop paying fees to Individual K for lobbying the state of Illinois on behalf of a client" of Levine's," according to the document. It also states that Firm 8, or Carlyle Group, "received an investment of approximately $150 million from TRS in about August 2002."

Levine, the document states, failed to disclose to the TRS board facts about the Carlyle investment, including his arrangements with Cellini and Kjellander.

Neither Kjellander nor Cellini could be reached late Sunday. Neither has been charged in the case.

Kjellander has come under fire from some members of his own party in recent years because of large fees he has received as a consultant for companies getting state business, especially since Democrat Blagojevich took office.

He received $809,000 as a consultant to Bear Stearns, a firm that got a key underwriting role for a $10 billion bond issue done by the Blagojevich administration in 2003. And Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego was among Republicans who said Kjellander should step down from his national party post because of word in mid-2005 that Kjellander was to be paid $4.5 million by Carlyle Group for helping it receive TRS investments.

Kjellander had been paid $3.1 million of that total as of early August 2005, the Associated Press has reported.

Kjellander has so far weathered the political storm brought about by the fees.

In May 2004, state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, R-Elgin, challenged Kjellander's bid for re-election to the RNC at an Illinois GOP state convention. Rauschenberger got just one vote in committee, and Kjellander was re-elected on a voice vote.

Kjellander, who was a regional chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004, was elected treasurer of the RNC in August 2005, and was lauded in the new role by Ken Mehlman, RNC chairman.

"In his role as a regional chair in 2000 and 2004, he gave of himself every day, all day," Mehlman said in a statement at the time. "As former chairman of the RNC rules committee, he brought energy, focus and organization. As the treasurer of the RNC, he will bring his proven record of making things happen."

In late August 2005, Kjellander told how the $4.5 million in fees, which involved a series of transactions, came about.

"They came to us after attempting to get a hearing (with TRS) for over two years," Kjellander said then of the Carlyle Group. "They came to me. They made a proposal. They said, 'And this is our fee structure.' I talked to (TRS) board members. I asked for (Carlyle) to have an opportunity to present their case.

"But this is not a political board," Kjellander said then. "This is a board composed of mostly, a majority, of teachers. Somebody's trying to make this a political thing. It's not."

He was asked if access to the board was somehow determined by political connections.

"Absolutely not," Kjellander said at the time. "Insider clout has nothing to do with this. There is a process. The Teachers' Retirement System has a professional staff. They have professional consultants that they retain.

"The first thing that happens when a new fund wants to seek investment funds is they have to present to the staff and to the consultants. That was done. If the consultants and the staff think it's a good thing, then it goes to the investment committee. And if the investment committee thinks it's a good thing, then it (goes) to the full board."

While "Individual K," or Kjellander, is mentioned in the Levine plea agreement only in relation to the investment with Carlyle Group, Individual A, or Cellini, is listed in relation to other transactions as well.

Individual A is among people listed, along with Levine, Antoin "Tony" Rezko and others as among those who "devised and intended to devise, and participated in, a scheme and artifice to defraud the beneficiaries of the Teachers' Retirement System ... and the people of the State of Illinois" through various avenues.

Rezko, an advisor and top fundraiser for Blagojevich, has pleaded innocent to corruption charges against him.

In a statement issued Friday after Levine's federal court appearance, Bauman said that "No TRS assets were used to fund these illegal payments and not one penny of the teachers' retirement money was lost or put at risk by this scheme."

Levine, 60, of Highland Park could be sentenced to five years and seven months in prison under the plea agreement with prosecutors that U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve tentatively approved. In the meantime, Levine must continue helping federal authorities.

Kjellander and Cellini are politically close. Among his other titles, Cellini is executive director of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, and that group's office is in the same building as Kjellander's Springfield Consulting Group. Janis Cellini - Bill Cellini's sister - is listed with the secretary of state as a contract lobbyist with Kjellander's firm.

Blagojevich gets Sierra Club nod

The Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his bid for re-election. The club has 26,000 members statewide.

Jack Darin, executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the governor's veto of two bills to allow all-terrain vehicles in state parks and his objection to selling parts of the Shawnee National Forest and open new roadless areas to logging were important to his organization.

Darin said Blagojevich should not shoulder all of the blame for the decline in staffing and funding at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, because the downward trend started during the administration of Gov. George Ryan. Many experienced employees left the agency in a wave of early retirements in 2002, an event Darin called a "brain drain."

Darin also said groups such as the Sierra Club, working with the umbrella group Partners for Parks and Wildlife, have been successful in demonstrating that dedicated funds used to help communities purchase land for parks and protect open space and natural areas have strong constituent support.

"We're confident they are not going to do that again," he said of intense lobbying efforts that were waged to protect the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Fund and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund from fund sweeps. "We don't expect to have to fight that battle again."

Report urges gubernatorial candidates to consider environmental issues - Chris Young

Two of the three candidates for Illinois governor say the state Department of Natural Resources needs more respect than it's received from Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich, not surprisingly, disagrees.

Responding to a report issued by a coalition of environmental and conservation groups, Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka said she is committed to strengthening DNR and that, if elected, she would hire a director with a background in natural resources management.

The report was developed during a forum on conservation issues held last spring at the University of Illinois at Springfield. More than 100 leaders of groups representing various interests including hunting, fishing, trapping, bicycling, bird watching and park and forest preserve districts met in a one-day forum.

The Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Association of Park Districts and Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources co-sponsored the forum.

Forum organizers issued their report in late May and sent copies to both major-party candidates for governor in hopes that some recommendations would be adopted into the candidates' platforms.

Concerns expressed by forum participants included the need to develop a stable funding source for DNR, hiring of an agency director with a background in natural resources management, and protecting funds dedicated to parks, outdoor recreation and land acquisition from being tapped to balance the state budget.

"We're delighted with the fact that we received a response from Judy Baar Topinka," said Brenda Potts, executive director of the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources, one of the forum's organizers. "It shows that she is paying attention to our concerns."

Blagojevich did not respond to two written requests for his reaction, she said.

However, Sheila Nix, spokeswoman for the Blagojevich campaign, said the governor's most recent budget included an increase in funding for DNR and $10 million for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Blagojevich recently received an endorsement from the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, Nix pointed out.

"If you consider that the Sierra Club endorsed us, and they have a very high standard, I think we've been addressing concerns of the (environmental and conservation) groups," Nix said.

Nix said the campaign responded to a lengthy questionnaire from the Sierra Club and one from the Illinois Association of Park Districts, one of the conservation forum sponsors.

The candidates' responses to the IAPD questionnaire were published in the organization's magazine, Illinois Parks & Recreation, in its September/October issue.

In the article, Blagojevich said the priorities of his administration have been health care, education and job creation.

"Parks, recreation and conservation are important components of each," he said.

"In the 21st century, jobs follow an educated labor force, and people want to locate where there is a good quality of life, including recreational and natural areas," he said.

Topinka has criticized Blagojevich's choices for DNR director and attempts to "sweep" money from funds dedicated to environmental purposes to help balance the state budget.

"Rod Blagojevich has installed political cronies with no natural resource education or knowledge to properly manage state parks, habitat, wildlife, fisheries or forests," she wrote.

DNR acting director Sam Flood is a Democratic Party official, and former director Joel Brunsvold was a longtime state legislator.

"I will look for candidates that are qualified and understand the needs of the state's natural resources," Blagojevich told the magazine. "I will look for a person who has proven that he or she can get things done and knows how to provide value for the public dollar."

Green Party candidate Rich Whitney was not originally sent a copy of the forum's report. He said last week, however, that he was aware of many of the issues raised by the forum.

"I'm very familiar with how DNR has been devastated," he said. "I think it is one of the hardest-hit agencies by the current administration. It is shameful."

Whitney said one of his priorities would be to restore funding to DNR, "to get it back to something approximating what it was before the Blagojevich administration."

"When he brags about the 13,000 jobs he has eliminated, I don't think he should be bragging," Whitney said. "These are frontline jobs, and we're suffering from it."

Forum organizers said the groups banded together in frustration over funding and staffing issues at DNR. The agency's operating budget was reduced from about $220 million in fiscal 2003 to $187 million in fiscal 2006. The number of employees dropped from more than 2,000 in fiscal 2004 to just over 1,600.

DNR's fiscal 2007 operating budget, which took effect July 1, is $218.5 million, a figure close to 2003 levels. At a meeting with outdoor writers at Starved Rock State Park in May, DNR department heads pledged to rebuild programs at the agency and increase staffing in state parks.

Whitney said he also supports protection for "isolated wetlands" that are not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that he wants to revive the Open Lands Trust. Whitney also said he would reach out to constituent groups to find the best people to staff state agencies.

Potts said the forum is an offshoot of the former Conservation Congress where constituent groups met to identify priorities and communicate their concerns to DNR officials.

"Many of the groups have expressed a desire to continue," Potts said. "I think they enjoy the networking and the opportunity to find some major issues we can all agree on."


Herald Endorsements — For The First Time

Beginning with the Nov. 7 statewide elections, the Southwest News-Herald will be adjusting its past policies and begin offering editorial endorsements in local, regional, statewide and national elections that are of interest and importance to our readership.

While we will be endorsing candidates, our hope is to help voters and readers better understand the issues and become more engaged in the election process.

The News-Herald had resisted making endorsements in the past because we felt that the emphasis should be placed on the issues and the candidates. However, we believe now that we best serve our readers by taking a stand and expressing our opinions on who is best suited for a particular office.

Ultimately, it is our readers, the voters, who have to make the decision on who to vote for based on their beliefs and convictions. If we can play a small role in raising questions and creating interest, then we have done our part.

In the race for governor, incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich has not delivered on his promise to reform the corruption that was rampant in the administration of his convicted predecessor George Ryan. He has had some difficult decisions to make regarding the budget and debt left by Ryan. But the past year has been one scandal after another scandal in his administration. The governor may not be directly guilty of any wrongdoing, but he has not boosted confidence after the Ryan debacle.

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is a familiar name in Illinois politics. The Republican candidate has had an uphill battle in attempting to unseat Blagojevich. But many of her ideas do not fly here, specifically having a casino on the city’s lakefront with profits going for education. We’ve heard that one before.

So we are endorsing the candidacy of Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, an attorney from Carbondale, who has solid ideas for the state. Blagojevich and Topinka have stooped to name-calling during the final days of the campaign.

For U.S. Congress, the real election in the Democratically-controlled 3rd District was last March when two Democratic candidates joined in challenging Dan Lipinski for the seat that was handed to him by his father, Bill Lipinski. While Bill Lipinski did much in his career as an alderman, committeeman and congressman, we believe Dan Lipinski still has to prove himself. One of his Primary challengers, John Kelly of Oak Lawn, was a strong candidate who should continue his political pursuits.

Dan Lipinski’s challenger in the general election is 71-year-old Ray Wardingley, a resident of Chicago’s Beverly community. Wardingley is a perennial candidate who is congenial and well-intentioned. However, his views are too simplistic and unrealistic. Dan Lipinski receives our endorsement, but he must step out of his father’s towering shadow.

The Cook County Board President race has dominated the news. Ironically, most voters take the county for granted, even though they fund its $3.1 billion annual budget. We are displeased in the manner in which Todd Stroger was chosen to replace his ailing father, John Stroger.

However, the biggest problem we have with Todd Stroger is a lack of knowledge in running the office. His challenger, Republican Anthony Peraica, has more experience and has ably responded to the continual chant of Todd Stroger, a Chicago alderman, regarding abortion and GOP policies. Peraica, a county board commissioner has his enemies and he often talks before he thinks. But out of the two candidates, he is the best choice to serve as Cook County Board President.

In other races:

We endorse Lisa Madigan for re-election as Illinois Attorney General. Madigan has taken her responsibilities seriously. And in her time in office, she has demonstrated that she is a champion of consumer and public rights. We endorse Madigan over her Republican challenger Stu Umholtz, who has not articulated his views to our region.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White receives our endorsement, although we would like to see White spend more time addressing the needs of the southwest suburbs and Chicago’s Southwest Side. We tip our hat to his challenger Dan Rutherford, who has reached out and tried to articulate his views to our constituents.

We also endorse Republican Christine Radogno for the office of Illinois Treasurer over her challenger, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who has failed to speak to our constituents. Radogno once served the communities of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge and Clearing communities as state senator. She has proven to be energetic and approachable on a variety of issues.

Radogno was first seen in the public eye as a community activist from La Grange who helped in the fight against having an incinerator constructed in Summit. She receives our enthusiastic support.


VERY SAD: ServiceMaster moving to Memphis - Brandon Glenn

Downers Grove stands to lose 170 jobs after ServiceMaster Co. made official a plan to move its headquarters from the western suburb to Memphis, Tenn.

The move to Memphis is scheduled to be completed by July 2007, according to a statement Monday from the company.

The move comes as little surprise, considering all of the company’s divisions are headquartered in Memphis and its new CEO recently purchased a home in the area. ServiceMaster, best known as the owner of Terminix pest control and ChemLawn fertilizer service, employs more than 2,000 people in the Memphis area.

CEO J. Patrick Spainhour said in the statement that the move would help build “even closer working relationships” among the company’s functional and operational teams.

Most of the 170 Downers Grove employees work in finance, accounting and information technology.

Downers Grove employees were informed of the decision Monday morning, a ServiceMaster spokesman said. The company wants employees to decide by mid-December whether they will transfer to Memphis.

ServiceMaster has proposed to create 500 jobs, including the Downers Grove executive positions, in Memphis through the end of 2011.

ServiceMaster’s decision comes as a blow to Downers Grove, which stands to lose a number of well-paid workers who figure to put their homes up for sale.

An official from the village of Downers Grove did not return a call seeking comment.

ServiceMaster occupies three floors of a seven-floor, 164,000-square-foot building at 3250 Lacey Road. Hamilton Partners manages the property. A Hamilton representative did not return a call seeking comment.

Memphis' economic development board has approved tax freezes for ServiceMaster that would save the company $8 million to $18 million in taxes, depending on whether the company builds new offices or uses existing space.

"We certainly did we everything we could to keep this company in Illinois. Sometimes, companies make decisions that are beyond our control," said a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

In June 2002, ServiceMaster received about $8 million in state income tax credits as an incentive to remain in Downers Grove after the company downsized to smaller offices. Those credits are spread out over 10 years. ServiceMaster is responsible for paying back some of that money, however, if it leaves before five years. The state DCEO spokesman said the department has not yet determined whether ServiceMaster would owe the state money. The company also received more than $600,000 in grants from the state for facilities and employee training.

ServiceMaster has said it wasn't looking for additional tax breaks or other economic incentives from the state of Illinois or Downers Grove.

Although ServiceMaster’s Chicago-area roots go back decades, the company’s local workforce has been dwindling since the company sold its commercial cleaning service to Aramark Corp. in 2001. Before the sale of the unit, ServiceMaster employed 1,200 people in Downers Grove.


Illinois Congressional Districts 6 & 8: The Illinois Twins: Tom Bevan

IL6 and IL8 are two of the most hotly contested races in the country, the former being one of the GOP's strongest chances of holding a vulnerable open seat and the latter being one of the very few chances Republicans have this year at stealing a seat from the Dems.

In some ways these district are like a pair of conjoined twins, with the eighth district being the more conservative of the two: (omitted)

Republican Henry Hyde has represented the sixth since 1974. Republican Phil Crane represented the eighth from 1969 through 2004 when voters replaced him with Democrat Melissa Bean.

A new poll from the Daily Herald shows both races to be extremely close, with Republican Peter Roskam holding a slight edge in IL6 and incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean with a slight edge in the eigth. You can find updated analyses on these races here: IL6 | IL8.

One final note. Dennis Byrne writes in the Chicago Tribune this morning about a factor that isn't often talked about but could have an impact: the perceived meddling of the Chicago political machine in the affairs of the suburbs:

If you're a suburban voter and someone knocks on your door asking you how you plan to vote in the congressional election, you might want to ask for some ID.
Chances are the ID would have a Chicago address. That's because Chicago Democrats are being recruited to work against Republican candidates throughout Cook County and collar counties. [snip]

This may not sound like much of a deal to some Chicagoans who have no use for the suburbs to start with, but suburbanites, such as myself, might not like it because we, after all, live out here in part to be away from the city's lousy schools, higher crime rates and politics as it is practiced in Chicago. Suburbs to Chicago: Butt out. Do we send in squads of suburban Republicans to work Democratic precincts? Haven't you screwed up Chicago and Cook County governments enough already? Do we need lakefront and limousine liberals to tell us how to vote?

It'll be impossible to tell until after the election whether the assistance of Chicago Democrats - particularly to Tammy Duckworth's campaign - is a huge asset or whether it turns out to be a bit of a liability, similar to the way Howard Dean's "storm" of nutters from across the country ended up annoying the hell out of Iowa Democrats back in 2003 and January 2004.


Umholtz Realistic About Chances

Republican Attorney General Candidate Stewart Umholtz says he can't argue with predictions that he could lose by double digits next month to Lisa Madigan.

But the three-term Tazewell County state's attorney says he isn't worried about it.

Umholtz says his first-ever bid for statewide office is less about winning now than forging political and fund-raising connections to set him up for another run at the office in 2010.

Umholtz says he lacks the cash for a more high-profile race.

But he thinks that will change in four years based on the connections he's making.

He says he might not have to face Madigan next time around.


Reboletti v. Vosicky: Education at front of race for Daniels' seat  Two look to fill spot left by longtime DuPage powerbroker - Joe Cressman

When state Rep. Lee Daniels, R-46th District, of Elmhurst, last year announced he would not seek re-election in 2006, friends and colleagues called his pending retirement the end of an era.

As two candidates prepare to compete for Daniels' job, a new era is about to begin.

Although their backgrounds and political affiliations are entirely different, Dennis Reboletti and Joe Vosicky have one thing in common: Each believes he is the best man for the state House seat Daniels will vacate in January.

Vosicky, a lawyer and Democrat, faces a tough challenge. An Addison Township trustee and former Elmhurst alderman, Reboletti has been endorsed by the major Republican leaders in DuPage County, including Daniels.

"(Reboletti is) very well suited to becoming a state representative," Daniels said. "He has a very good working knowledge of this area. When you match that against his opponent's lack of experience, Dennis comes up with high marks in comparison."

Although Vosicky has never held elective office, he's not worried about Reboletti's municipal government experience.

"I don't think it gives him a leg up, to be honest with you," he said. "My opponent is a state employee. I've always been self-employed and have more experience when it comes to working with people in general."

Reboletti, 38, is a Will County prosecutor. In 2004, he lost a primary race to state Sen. Carole Pankau, R-23rd District.

Vosicky, 57, ran for the 46th District seat in 2004, but was defeated by Daniels.

The 46th District covers Elmhurst, Lombard, Villa Park, Itasca, Wood Dale, Addison and Bensenville.

Vosicky said he believes the largest issues facing the state are improving how schools are funded, health care reform and equipping young adults to find good jobs. Finding a better way to finance schools and teachers' pensions is a top priority, he said.

"The issue is one that needs to be resolved and it's been pending for 30 years," he said.

Vosicky supports Senate Bill 0750. Introduced in 2005, the bill would change how schools are funded, including reducing the amount of money they receive through property taxes, said Vosicky.

He also would try to improve the health care system.

"The cost of Medicare is not even understandable," he said. "We need to get the brains together on it. Anybody with any connection to health care needs to come to the table because the cost is just huge. (It) needs to be revamped."

Changing the way schools are funded also is one of Reboletti's top concerns. He supports reactivating a long-unused 10th gaming license for the city of Chicago, but only if the money generated would go to schools across Illinois.

Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka in August unveiled a plan that depends on the creation of a controversial Chicago casino to help raise billions of dollars for public schools and property-tax relief.

"Pensions are going to be due and we need to make sure teachers can collect on retirement," Reboletti said.

In regard to the economy, Reboletti said Illinois is not very business-friendly, charging excessive taxes and fees that repel corporations to neighboring states.

"Since we are the transportation hub, there's no reason why industrial (areas) shouldn't be completely full," he said. "But for some reason, they're choosing not to stay here. That trend has to stop."

What also must stop is the corruption in Chicago politics, Reboletti said.

"With my background as a prosecutor, I have ethical ways to deal with (corruption)," he said. "I have no issue with consistent disclosure of campaign funds."

Daniels will end a more than 30-year career in politics this year. He spent 20 of them as House GOP leader and two years as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. His office has been the target of a federal investigation for allegedly using state workers on campaigns.


For Sale: Sixth District Democrat candidate

Chicago Democrat Tammy Duckworth Receives Tens of Thousands of Dollars in 11th Hour Assistance from Some of America's Most Liberal Activist Organizations

WASHINGTON – After it looked like she had all but run out of money in her bid for Congress, Chicago Democrat Tammy Duckworth was the beneficiary of 11th hour help from some of the country's most activist liberal organizations.

 "When Chicago Democrat Tammy Duckworth was strapped for cash, America's foremost liberal activist organizations came to her rescue, a fact they are hoping she'll remember if she makes it to Congress," National Republican Congressional Committee press secretary Jonathan Collegio said today. "Progressive bloggers, feminists, and gay rights activists are trying to push Tammy Duckworth across the finish line because they know a candidate with a record of being controlled by Chicago politicians could easily become a pawn of Washington liberal special interests."

 In her pre-general election filing, which lists contributions received from October 1-18, Tammy Duckworth reported contributions from:

EMILY's List – $105,335

EMILY's List has been described by the Philadelphia Daily News as "the Washington-based feminist political action committee."

Act Blue – $13,133

Act Blue brings together progressive bloggers who want to send contributions directly to Democrat candidates.

Human Rights Campaign – $11,535

According to their Web site, The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

 "If Tammy Duckworth's liberal friends have their way, the progressive utopian agenda is coming to a Chicago suburb near you," Collegio added. "Sixth District voters have been faced with the same fundamental choice from day one: between a local legislator in Peter Roskam and a Chicago machine-operated, Washington liberal-funded pawn in Tammy Duckworth."


Carole wows 'em at City Club Debate

At the City Club debate with Dan Hynes this week, Carole used her first Comptroller debate to wow attendees and Chicago media with her mastery of issues and forceful presentation.

"In all of my years sitting on the appropriations committee in the House, I only see Dan Hynes once each year when his budget is up for consideration. Otherwise, he is not there," Pankau told the crowd. "The Office of the Comptroller can be so much more than it is. As Comptroller, I would give legislative and executive branches fiscal information that's been analyzed, rather than raw fiscal data, so they can use it to reliably craft a budget. Currently, that's not being done."

Questions ranged from what should be done differently in the Comptroller's office, to how both candidates felt about stem cell research, to the Medicaid debt crisis. Carole said she would use the Comptroller's office to develop criteria for governmental programs to judge whether they are working or not; outlined her Medicaid payment plan, noting that Hynes doesn't have one; and spoke about her support for adult stem cell research and opposition to creating life in order to destroy it, while proudly giving an example of how her daughter donated the cord blood from her new baby this year in order to further stem cell research.

Hynes was defensive about his lack of stewardship during the state's fiscal crisis, pointing the finger at the Governor and General Assembly for the Medicaid debt crisis. When Carole talked about her plan to help solve the Medicaid debt crisis with a Medicaid Fund Receipt Account, "something the Comptroller could do today," Hynes was silent and did not rebut it.

Carole's thoughtful answers and knowledge of the Comptroller's duties and responsibilities were not unusual for those who know her, but they were the first time they could be exhibited in a debate setting. Hynes got another surprise, however, when it came time in the debate for each candidate to ask the other candidate a question. Carole's question for Comptroller Hynes was: "Would you agree to have each campaign's staff work out a date and time before we leave this room today for one downstate debate before Nov. 7?" Hynes had to answer: "Absolutely."

After the debate, staff conferred and came up with Thursday, Nov. 2 as the date for the downstate debate between Carole and Hynes. The debate will be held at Western Illinois University at 10:00am. The moderator will be Rich Egger, station manager of the Illinois Public Radio Network on the WIU campus. Stay tuned!


Stroger Remains A Fraud To The End

Chicago, IL... Cook County Commissioner and reform candidate for Cook County Board President Tony Peraica - furthering his demand that Chicago TV stations cease airing a fraudulent advertisement produced by Todd Stroger's campaign - today issued the following statement:

"Yesterday, I publicly called on TV stations to stop airing a fraudulent ad produced by Todd Stroger's campaign. In response, ABC7's Ben Bradley aired a report on last night's 10 o'clock news which prominently featured Todd Stroger's own non-response, and then moved to a Stroger campaign spokeswoman acknowledging that there is NOT, in fact, any factual basis behind charges leveled in the ad.

"Asked by Mr. Bradley 'how can you prove it is stuff he said?' Todd Stroger replied, 'I don't have all the papers on me now but call the office and we'll let you know where you can find it.'

"So Ben Bradley called the office. And here's what he reported:

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for Todd Stroger backed-off the claim that Peraica would close Provident Hospital just a bit. She said her campaign believes Peraica's cuts would result in a hospital or several county clinics being closed. She says the campaign assumed it would be Provident.

"So when challenged to back up his charges, Todd Stroger - who already has shown a history of not knowing what's going on around him - shrugged it off and told a reporter to call his office. And when the reporter called his office, a spokeswoman 'backed off' the claim, explaining that her campaign made an assumption.

"This is par for the course.

"You aren't allowed to 'ASSUME' things like that and then state them as FACT.

"That one statement - 'She says the campaign ASSUMED' something - is an admission of guilt, an acknowledgement that there is no factual basis to the ludicrous, offensive, and false charge contained in the advertisement.

"But Todd Stroger continues to air the ad.

"Newspaper editorials and columnists have referred on several occasions to the entire Stroger candidacy being a fraud on the voters of Cook County. It looks like the Stroger campaign is doing its level best to maintain that fraud right up to Election Day.

"As I said in my Friday letter to TV station ad sales managers asking them to refuse to air the ad, they are under no obligation to air advertising which makes false claims.

"In at least two recent instances in other states, TV stations have refused to air such deceptive ads.

"In New York, for instance, TV stations refused to air an ad produced by a national party committee because the 'facts' of the subject of the ad were under dispute. See:

"In Houston as well, TV stations refused to air an ad produced by an independent organization because the 'facts' of the subject of the ad were under dispute. See:

"The difference, of course, is that in this case, there IS NO DISPUTE over the 'facts' at hand - because while I have offered FACTS, the Stroger campaign has offered as proof nothing but ASSUMPTIONS, in their own words.

"These ads are as fraudulent as the entire Stroger campaign. Well, at least I'll give him credit for being consistent right up to the end - once a fraud, always a fraud."


The “Trib’s” Anti-Life Editorial Bigotry

Not long ago the “Tribune” was noted for its tend-to-the-left news coverage, op eds that contradict each other and wishy-washy editorials ending “time will tell” or “we will see” with the proviso that just before the election, the page would generally endorse Republicans…so as to effect a balance making it seem that a vestige of the old gutsy conservativeness endured. Not this year. The paper has tend-to-the-left news coverage, op eds that contradict themselves (with the exception of the best political columnist the paper ever had: John Kass)…wishy-washy editorials ending “time will tell” and “we will see” but candidate endorsements that go heavily to the left.

What’s interesting is that generally the paper reflects a kind of libertarianism and pro-business outlook in its editorials-but increasingly its candidate endorsements do not reflect the philosophy: which is par for a newspaper that is confused about where it stands. Its economic views sound like Peter Roskam’s but it endorses Tammy Duckworth whose positions are far different. The only conclusion is that Roskam, who is a pro-lifer is objectionable from that standpoint to a newspaper that increasingly shows its anti-life bigotry. The view is harder to pin down by its endorsement of Melissa Bean who has a pro-business attitude but again, it is clear, that David McSweeney’s pro-life stand is objectionable.

Yet another indication of its anti-life bigotry is its renunciation of Maureen Murphy, the Republican candidate for the Board of (Tax) Appeals. Typically beating around the bush, it criticizes Murphy for being insufficiently transparent in her office. But that is a falsehood because the record of every transaction is on the computer and available to the public. Strange for the paper that cherishes a fig-leaf of tax accountability, the editorial complains about “too many appeals”…which has been a taxpayer’s prerogative since the American Revolution. The real cause for opposing Murphy can be surmised as hostility to the fact that as state Rep and Republican county chairman she has been adamantly pro-life. That seems to be the unmistakable reason why the newspaper…tip-toeing around to avoid admitting its reliance on the issue…has to invent other reasons in order to clear the decks of Republican social conservatives.

Subdued but evident in code language throughout the legislative endorsements is anti-life bigotry: the view that if a candidate is consistently pro-life, he is “rigid,” “doctrinaire” and insufficiently “flexible.” Such is the case with the paper’s refusal to endorse Republican state Rep Terry Parke (R-Hoffman Estates). The paper has a reason not to endorse Parke because his awarding U of I scholarships to a kid whose parents contributed to him raises a kind of suspicion. But get the language the editorial uses: probably coming from the ex-cookbook editor who is on its “editorial board” for the all-important goal of diversity-not diversity in views necessarily but diversity in the wish to add culinary arts to the merry madcap of its membership which also included a professed gay Latino activist. How about a heterosexual black dwarf to complete the tango?

Anyhow, after the page rightly censures Parke on the scholarship thing and endorses his Democratic opponent, this is how it describes Parke, one of the social conservatives’ strongest and most reliable defenders. He “has always been politically rigid.” That’s code for: you should change your attitude on pro-life to conform with the flexibility of the “Tribune.” On another issue of interest to social conservatives, “Parke earned an `A’ rating from the National Rifle Association”-which is the bugaboo that faint-hearted liberal New York Times-wannabes apply…while his opponent, somebody named Fred Crespo says he supports “common-sense gun laws.” That’s enough for the “Tribune”: “common-sense gun laws” whatever that means. One thing is sure: if a candidate is a firm conservative and holds strongly to well-defined social views, he can be sure that he will be nixed by the paper for his “rigid” and “uncompromising” views. Yet “rigid” and “uncompromising” views on the left are never disqualified-as was the case with the most rigid, autocratic and doctrinaire liberal in the House who was endorsed by the paper: Barbara Flynn Currie. Let’s say Mike Madigan’s majority leader is “rigid” and “inflexible.”

Also there’s one point I’d like to make about the “Trib” which I’ve written before. It likes to spin up a mélange of sophisticated, balanced and nuanced solutions to public problems but in its endorsements largely supports flat, unchanging, unblinking liberal Democrats-as in the case of Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-33rd). He succeeded Todd Stroger in the legislature and he’s endorsed because “he’s certainly done more than his predecessor.” That’s a recommendation? So has the House janitor. A newspaper looking for improvement might have endorsed the Republican Nathan Peoples, a city business consultant but that would not be figure to be elected in an all-black Democratic district. Which shows you that the vaunted editorial board is as cynical as backroom politicians in selecting those who can get elected rather than ones who support a program the duplicitous “Trib” so piously supports on other days.


Kjellander and Topinka: Disgusting Duo

In a December 26, 2005 article, Chicago Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne speaks plainly:

"Of course every candidate says he's for reform and against graft. Fortunately, in Illinois, we've got a good way to tell if it is true: Only trust candidates that disavow the bipartisan political establishment that runs this state: The Republican and Democratic "leadership," big business, big labor, big lawyers, big doctors and the rest of 'the bigs.'

That rules out Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka. Shamelessly, she sought the endorsement and money of "the bigs" as a condition of running. That included genuflecting to Republican political wonders in Washington -- the Karl Roves and also the reform-challenged Robert Kjellanders who engineered the 2004 GOP wreck in Illinois."

The Disgusting Duo of Kjellander and Topinka attracted our notice back in 2002 when they combined to push out the reform-minded Republican State Chairman, Gary MacDougal. That vicious ejection brought “KJ” out from hiding in the “lobster” lobbyist underground of bi-partisan influence peddling. The extensive lying about Gary and the intriguing of GOP insiders revealed that the “bi-partisan culture of sleaze” in the GOP was assembling to crush conservatives- those who still thought Republicans stood for decency and efficient representative government.

Too Many GOP politicians have refused to publicly oppose these influence peddlers because they depend on their illicit support in their grubby election campaigns. Kjellanders, Topinka, and their shadow supporters have stunted the growth of leadership in the GOP. Keep in mind that “honor among thieves” is based on mutual vulnerability to exposure.

In a few weeks, Illinois voters will have a chance to go to the polls. For governor, neither Blago nor Topinka deserves to win. They are both members in good standing of that “bi-partisan political establishment that runs this state.”


Protectors of "Individual K" are guilty of political malpractice

As voters are now learning, the very investigations that Judy Baar Topinka’s crew promised would bring Rod Blagojevich down, are now implicating Topinka’s top allies too.  We’re talking about not only Bob Kjellander, but also that other Republican powerbroker from Springfield, Bill Cellini. 

We’ve been calling for the removal of Bob Kjellander from his post as the Illinois GOP’s National Committeeman for a long time.  Now he’s “Individual K” in the guilty plea Stuart Levine entered into last week with federal prosecutors.

The nature of the activities alleged about Kjellander hint to us that it won’t be the last time his name is mentioned in a federal courtroom.  And that’s hardly a surprise.  Kjellander appears to have gorged more than almost anyone else on consulting fees connected to the State Boards that oversee worker pensions.  And it was widely reported over a year ago that Kjellander’s dealings were under federal investigation.

But even before this latest revelation, the case for Kjellander’s removal was clear.  This is a man who has publicly called good Republicans “kooks” and who only retained his post in 2004 through what surely had to be the most internally rigged “election” in history – one presided over by Topinka of course.  Over a year ago we cited the Top 10 reasons Kjellander should be removed from his Illinois Party post.

In short, Kjellander is an embarrassing disgrace to the Republican Party.  Any Republican elected or Party official who still protects him – through silence or deeds - is similarly unworthy to lead.

A Squandered Opportunity

Last November, twelve grassroots organizations (including Family Taxpayers Network) stood-up to ask State Party Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. to simply enforce his own organization’s new Code of Ethics.  You can read the letter here.

While we hardly needed a new policy to tell us that Kjellander needed to go - once adopted, any reasonable person would expect such a Code of Ethics to be enforced.  Kjellander’s conflicts of interest and activities giving the appearance of impropriety became obvious more than three years ago.  Kjellander was, and remains a walking violation of the State GOP’s own Code of Ethics.

Now that Kjellander has the new moniker “Individual K” – the case is even stronger.  But Andy McKenna still does nothing.  Although we note that the Code of Ethics has been removed from the State Party’s website.

Had McKenna done his job a year ago, Republican candidates might have some credibility this year on the corruption issue.  Maybe Topinka could have even sold herself to more people as a serious alternative to Blagojevich. 

Maybe Republicans would be energized to volunteer on behalf of campaigns, instead of feeling like chumps because one of the top guys does nothing but use his Party title to help get richer.

But of course McKenna didn’t act.  McKenna was Kjellander’s and Topinka’s handpicked choice for Party Chairman.  He wasn’t jammed into the post to be a reformer.  McKenna was put in to help the un-reformer Topinka.

Frankly, we’ve given up on Andy McKenna.  Between the rigged Party elections, dishonestly bailing-out on the Protect Marriage project, and refusing to enforce his own Code of Ethics – his reputation is ruined.   Like some others, he inexplicably decided to sacrifice his integrity on the dirty altar of Topinka.

Tell them to clean-up or shut-up

The election now just eight days away is shaping-up to be a disaster for the Illinois Republican Party.  All signs point that way.  Any setback suffered by the GOP at the national level is likely to be magnified many times over in Illinois.

A clear warning signal was sent during the March Primary when the Republican turnout was down 20% in Illinois from four years before.  But rather than muster corrective action, our Party’s Old Guard just dug-in even more.  Since March, they have done little more than just rig more Party elections and engaged in more behavior destructive to Republicans and their causes.

The really shameful fact is how few Republican elected officials and Party “leaders” have said a peep.  Why should any Republican be excited about saving their skins now?

We’ll just assume that McKenna will do the right thing and step down immediately after the election.  All we can do with eight days to go is find out where our candidates stand.

We encourage Republicans to ask their candidates for all offices, from Congress down to School Board if they will call for Bob Kjellander’s resignation as Republican National Committeeman. 

That may not be a magic bullet for reform, but it’s an obvious first step.  Frankly, if a candidate can’t stand-up on an obvious issue like this one, they can’t be trusted to ever stand-up on anything.  And if we don’t have leaders with the spine to clean-up our own house, then we should probably stop throwing mud at Blagojevich.

Republican candidates have only eight days left to demonstrate they have the character for leadership.  We won’t shed any tears when those who continue to hide in the tall grass are pulverized by their Democrat opponents a week from Tuesday.  Cowardice and more betrayals will only bring losing on themselves.

Immediately after November 7th, we can start looking for better candidates who are strong enough to lead.  We know they are out there.

Poll: Blagojevich holds 16-point lead over Topinka

ABC News in Chicago reports:

"Blagojevich leads Topinka by 16 points...48-to-32 with Green party candidate Rich Whitney at 12 percent and 8 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4 percent."

Blagojevich 48

Topinka 32

Whitney 12

undecided 8

"October 30, 2006 - The election is just eight days away and we now have results of our exclusive ABC7, Daily Herald poll on the race for governor. Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka have launched a barrage of negative ads in the campaign and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney is hoping to cash in voter dissatisfaction.

The Illinois voters who weighed in for our poll don't like Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich very much but he still has a big lead because those same voters dislike his Republican opponent Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka even more, and as a result, they're turning to a relatively unknown third party candidate in unprecedented numbers."

The emphasis was ours.  Click here to read their entire report.

Poll: Majority believes government doing too much

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."

The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

Here's something to keep in mind as the media continually repeats the mantra about how Blagojevich's millions of dollars in TV ads have muddied up Topinka: don't forget that Topinka came into this race late last year with a lot of baggage.  She was a walking target -- in so many ways it's almost impossible to count them.  We'd refer you to here if you'd like to start totalling them up.

The Family Taxpayers Network sought to warn Republicans about this reality.  While 62% voters voted for other candidates in last March's primary, Spoiler Bill Brady helped his friend Judy win by splitting the vote sufficiently.

Had Blagojevich been running against Gidwitz in the general election instead of Topinka, for example, he wouldn't have had so much good material to use.  He would then have been forced to debate the issues -- instead of who is more corrupt.

For more poll results, click here and here.


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December 26, 2005 News Clips (Text) 26-Dec-2005
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July 15, 2005 News Clips 15-July-2005
July 14, 2005 News Clips 14-July-2005
July 13, 2005 News Clips 13-July-2005
July 12, 2005 News Clips 12-July-2005
July 11, 2005 News Clips 11-July-2005
July 10, 2005 News Clips 10-July-2005
July 9, 2005 News Clips 9-July-2005
July 8, 2005 News Clips 8-July-2005
July 7, 2005 News Clips 7-July-2005
July 6, 2005 News Clips 6-July-2005


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